Thicker than Oil

'There Will Be Blood'

Why is it that the great characters of fiction and drama always, finally, elude us? Hamlet, Phaedra, Charles Foster Kane, the bums waiting for Godot, Anna Karenina, Huck Finn: they lure us on and lure us on and then they turn into Mona Lisas. Critic Eric Bentley wrote that the “enigmatic nature of great characters also carries a cosmic implication: that life is but a small light in the midst of a vast darkness.” That strikes me as profoundly true, for the great...

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About the Author

Richard Alleva has been reviewing movies for Commonweal since 1990.